A mum: someone who always has countless hours to sit and play with her child, loves every single second of it, whilst also fitting in teaching them so they are ahead of the crowd when it comes to counting, or talking, or reading. On top of this, the house always, always looks pristine, the washing pile is always empty, and the food cupboards always stocked up! Her husband is happy, and she is contented. Sounds about right! If you’re a mum, this has probably already made you smile, because the reality is, there is always a huge list of seemingly never-ending demands!
Particularly as a stay at home mum you might think that I have countless hours to sit and play with my son, yet the reality is, even as a mum who is in theory always with my boy, there is always a constant stream of other demands, or things to do, or things taking my attention from my son.
I juggle the demands of looking after my boy, playing with him, teaching him, keeping him entertained, whilst also trying to maintain a clean house for the 5 of us that live here, keep the washing pile at bay, making sure there is food stocked up in the cupboards, the budget is maintained and our accounts looking healthy. On top of this, I need time for myself. When I go out to toddler groups, these groups are not just about my son, they are a place for me to chat to my friends and actually enjoy some adult conversation in a day full of toddler talk. So getting 1-1 time with my boy, even for me in this position as a full-time mum, can be a challenge.
Because we live in a society whereby people are always on the go, and there is always a constant stream of available entertainment, I think we need to be proactive in making 1-1 time to play with our children. I’m not talking about taking them to toddler groups and watching whilst they play, or sitting sipping a cup of tea watching them play with their toys at home. I’m talking about actually playing with them, and just them. Spending quality time, when just for a little while, they have their Mummies undivided attention. No phones, no cleaning, no demands, just them.
I have always tried to give Jonas lots of time, but some days, it is challenging, really challenging. When I take him to a toddler group, I actually want to catch up with my friends whilst I’m there. When I’m home, although I want to be with him, I also look around and in a few seconds can create a massive to do list of chores that desperately need doing. But sometimes I have to actually question, what is my main role. Is it keeping the house clean, or catching up with friends? No! These are important parts of my role, but they are not my main priority. It’s him, raising him, loving him, teaching him, and actually spending time doing those things he loves.
There will always be things to do, these things won’t stop. But my chance today, to connect with my son, and teach him something, or just to invest time in something he loves, that opportunity, that will pass. And if I don’t seize that precious opportunity in the busyness of life, it will pass me by.
I’ve started doing something I call ‘special time’ with Jonas. I try to spend time with him lots throughout the day, but I also give him time when we are at home, when it’s just me and him, his ‘special time’. We might do a craft, or play with his Fireman Sam figures, or read a book, whatever he wants to do. But it’s his time, and because I set aside this time that I know is his time, I’m not tempted to fill it with other chores. I protect it, because it’s precious.
Recently I’ve watched as Jonas has started to really love playing with his toys on his own. He will get his Happyland figures and play with them for ages, putting them on and off the bus and talking as if it’s them, asking for a ticket, or telling the driver where they want to go. Where has he got this from? From our time. This is something I’ve taught him in our 1-1 time, and I love seeing him develop and do this himself.
I’m not talking about spending hours sat with our children playing with just them, but just making sure that amongst the everyday demands or routine, they have some time, some special time just for them. When we sit, and play, teaching them how to play, and actually placing value on those things they love.
Because if your child is anything like my son, and I would guarantee they are, they love Mummies time. They love 1-1 attention. It doesn’t need to be long, but make it special. Because when we spend time with just them, we are placing value on them! And when we do this, I think we see them developing in the best way possible.